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LG gram review: The lightest family of notebooks you can buy

By Kenny Yeo - 8 Feb 2018

Performance Analysis

Performance Benchmarking 

The three LG gram notebooks have very similar specifications so I’m expecting them to put up similar numbers in our benchmarking tests. That said, performance throttling can be an issue with ultra-thin notebooks, so I’ll be keeping a close eye to see if this condition affects the LG gram notebooks. 

As for comparisons, it will be interesting to see how much performance increase the new gram notebooks with their Kaby Lake processors will yield over last year’s LG gram 15 which is powered by a Skylake processor. It will also be interesting to see how the new gram notebooks perform against other Kaby Lake notebooks like ASUS’ ZenBook 3 and ZenBook 3 Deluxe.

Here’s a list of all the benchmarks used:

  • PCMark 8
  • 3DMark (2013)
  • Tomb Raider
  • Far Cry 2

ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe Compared
  LG gram 13 (2017) LG gram 14 (2017) LG gram 15 (2017) LG Gram 15 ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490UA
  LG gram 13 (2017) LG gram 14 (2017) LG gram 15 (2017) LG Gram 15 ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490UA
Launch SRP
  • From S$
  • From S$2698
Processor and Chipset
  • Intel Core i7-7500U processor
  • Intel Core i7-7500U processor
  • Intel Core i7-7500U processor
  • Intel Core i7-6500U (2.5GHz, 4MB cache)
  • Intel Core i7-7500U processor (2.7GHz, 4MB cache)
Operating System
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10
  • Windows 10 Home
System Memory
  • 8GB
  • 8GB
  • 8GB
  • 8GB DDR3L-1600MHz
  • 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz RAM
Video & Display
  • 13-inch Full-HD IPS display
  • Intel HD Graphics 620
  • 14-inch Full-HD IPS display
  • Intel HD Graphics 620
  • 15.6-inch Full-HD IPS display
  • Intel HD Graphics 620
  • Intel Graphics 520
  • 15-inch
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
  • 14-inch LED-backlit
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
  • Gorilla Glass 5 cover
Storage
  • 256GB SSD
  • 512GB SSD
  • 512GB SSD
  • 512GB SSD SATA3
  • 512GB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD
Connectivity
  • 802.11ac 2x2 (867Mbps)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11ac 2x2 (867Mbps)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11ac 2x2 (867Mbps)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a (2x2, 867Mbps)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a (up to 867Mbps)
  • Bluetooth 4.1
Audio
  • Cirrus Logic DAC
  • DTS headphone: X
  • Cirrus Logic DAC
  • DTS headphone: X
  • Cirrus Logic DAC
  • DTS headphone: X
  • Stereo speakers (2 x 1W)
  • Integrated Cirrus Logic DAC
  • Quad-speaker ASUS SonicMaster Premium stereo audio system
I/O Ports
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB Type-C (USB 3.1)
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB Type-C (USB 3.1)
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x USB Type-C (USB 3.1)
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x USB Type C (USB 3.1 Gen 1)
  • Micro-SD card slot
  • 2 x USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C
  • 1 x headphones jack
Battery Type
  • 34.6Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 60Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 60Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 34.61Wh
  • 46Wh lithium-ion battery
Dimensions
  • 306 x 212 x 15mm
  • 323 x 212 x 16mm
  • 357 x 228 x 17mm
  • 357 x 228 x 16.8mm
  • 329 x 210 x 12.9mm
Weight
  • 840g
  • 970g
  • 1080g
  • 980g
  • 1.1kg
Optical Drive
  • None

PCMark 8

PCMark 8 tests a system’s performance by putting it through different tasks that reflect the workloads of various kinds of users, for instance the casual home user or the working creative professional. Looking at the PCMark 8 results, the three LG gram notebooks recorded scores that were quite close to each other. Their scores were also comparable against the ASUS ZenBook 3 and ZenBook 3 Deluxe, which are also powered by new and slightly more powerful Kaby Lake processors. It is also clear that the new gram notebooks have a performance advantage over last year’s gram 15, especially in the Creative, Work, MS Office, and Adobe workloads. 

 

3DMark

As noted in previous reviews, Intel’s new Kaby Lake processors do provide a noticeable graphics performance boost, and this was clearly recorded in our 3DMark test. All three gram notebooks performed significantly better than the gram 15 from last year. Curiously, however, the three notebooks posted wildly different scores on the less intensive Cloud Gate scenario. The gram 15 posted the highest score, which about 4% greater than the gram 14 and 11% better than the gram 13. On Fire Strike, all three gram notebooks recorded nearly identical scores.

However, compared to the ZenBook 3 and ZenBook 3 Deluxe, the three gram notebooks scored noticeably lower. The ZenBook 3 Deluxe performed notably better than all three gram notebooks. On Cloud Gate and Fire Strike, the ZenBook 3 Deluxe was about 10% and 25% faster respectively, which is quite a big margin.

 

Far Cry 2

On Far Cry 2, the three gram notebooks were, once again, faster than the gram 15 from last year. Overall, the new gram notebooks were about 12% faster than the Skylake-powered gram 15. That said, the three gram notebooks’ performance was slightly below that of the ASUS ZenBook 3 and ZenBook 3 Deluxe. The two ZenBooks were about 10% to 12% faster than the three gram notebooks, which confirms our earlier findings in 3DMark that the gram’s graphics performance is slightly disappointing. In fact, the new gram notebooks were outclassed even by the older HP Spectre and Dell XPS 13, which are both powered by Skylake processors.

 

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider is much more graphics-intensive game compared to Far Cry 2, which explains the overall poor performance of all the notebooks. Even so, one thing was clear and it was that the three gram notebooks were severely outclassed by the two ZenBooks, even though they were all powered by the same Intel processor. With the graphics settings turned to Normal, the ZenBooks were about 50% faster than the gram notebooks. On High, the ZenBooks’ advantage increased to about 58% overall. The gram notebooks were also surpassed by the older HP Spectre and Dell XPS 13. Clearly, the gram notebooks’ graphics performance leaves much to be desired.

 

Battery life & power consumption

One of the major improvements to the new gram notebooks is a larger battery. The gram 14 and gram 15 now have 60Wh capacity batteries, whereas last year’s models only had a 34.6Wh battery. The larger battery, coupled with the improved efficiency of the Kaby Lake processor, means that the new gram 15 notebook lasts over 2.7 times as long as the older gram 15 model. In all, the new gram 15 lasted 499 minutes or 8 hours and 19 minutes. 

Even more impressive is the gram 14, which lasted a whopping 572 minutes or 9 hours and 32 minutes. This is way longer than other any notebook here. Even the MacBook Air, which has a pretty good battery life of 323 minutes is no match for the new gram 14. And even though the gram 13 has a smaller 34.6Wh battery, it still lasted a very decent 296 minutes - just shy of 5 hours.

 Looking at the power consumption figures, we can also see that three gram notebooks are incredibly efficient. Their power consumption figures hover around the 7W mark, which is considerably lesser than the other notebooks. Even the ZenBook 3 and ZenBook 3 Deluxe, which have similar Kaby Lake processors, are not as power efficient. This could be a reason for the graphics performance discrepancy seen earlier and if so, the trade off has no bearing for a true mobile office warrior.

 

Portability Index

Our Portability Index factors in battery life, weight and volume so you can see which notebook is the most worthwhile to carry around. Given the long battery life of the new gram notebooks, it was unsurprising to see that all three of them scored very highly in our portability index. An interesting thing to note is that while last year’s gram 15 managed a score of only 2.276, this year’s new gram 15, with its improved processor and larger battery, managed a much higher ratio of 6.605.

And expectedly, the gram 14, with its lightweight compact chassis and super long battery life, has the highest ratio here of 7.910.

The gram 13 fared well too with a ratio of 4.609, which is better than other comparable ultra-portable 13-inch notebooks like the Dell XPS 13 and HP Spectre.

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